The Social Constructions of Race: A Discussion with Brigitte Fielder


Welcome to The Academic Life. You are smart and capable, but you aren’t an island, and neither are we. So we reached across our mentor network to bring you podcasts on everything from how to finish that project, to how to take care of your beautiful mind. Wish we’d bring in an expert about something? Twitter: The Academic Life @AcademicLifeNBN.

In this episode you’ll hear about: the importance of expanding the boundaries of academic theory through interdisciplinary studies, why you need to build and acknowledge your own support network, the social construction of race and racism, and a discussion of the book Relative Races.

Our guest is: Dr. Brigitte Fielder, an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is (with Jonathan Senchyne) co-editor of Against a Sharp White Background: Infrastructures of African-American Print and author of Relative Races: Genealogies of Interracial Kinship in Nineteenth-Century America. Her work has been published in various journals and edited collections. She is currently writing a book on racialized human-animal relationships in the long nineteenth century, which shows how childhood becomes a key site for (often simultaneous) humanization and racialization.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, a historian of women and gender.

Listeners to this episode might be interested in:

  • Cohen, Cathy. “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” glq 3, no. 4 (1997): 453–55.
  • Foreman, P. Gabrielle. “‘Who’s Your Mama?’ ‘White’ Mulatta Genealogies, Early Photography, and Anti-Passing Narratives of Slavery and Freedom.” American Literary History 14, no. 3 (2002): 505–39.
  • Freeman, Elizabeth. Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.
  • Hartman, Saidiya. Lose Your Mother: A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.
  • McKittrick, Katherine. Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.
  • Rifkin, Mark. Beyond Settler Time: Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017.
  • Spillers, Hortense J. “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book.” Diacritics 17, no. 2 (1987): 65–85.
  • TallBear, Kimberly. “Making Love and Relations beyond Settler Sex and Family.” In Making Kin, Not Population, edited by Adele E. Clarke and Donna Haraway, 145–66. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2018.

Your Host

Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
View Profile